Saturday, 29 September 2012

Film Review: THE FOUNTAIN (2006)

The Fountain - poster Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Darren Aronofsky (Screenplay/Story), Ari Handel, (Story)
Running time: 92 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Romance/Sci-Fi
USA Release date: 26th January 2007

Watched on DVD Saturday 29th September 2012.


Having a look around the internet it looks like this film has divided opinion all over the place. I have to say I liked it; beautifully made with an astonishing arc of a story that stretches hundreds of years and billions of miles. Aronofsky has made some great films in recent years; ‘The Wrestler’ and ‘Black Swan’ to name but two; and I find his work always challenging to watch. He doesn’t treat the audience like idiots and I appreciate that; so few are prepared to take that risk these days. Hopefully it’s a sign that things may be on the change. But I digress, here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

The Fountain - 7 We begin with Tomas, a Spanish Conquistador in the 16th Century searching for a Mayan temple that holds the Tree of Life. Then we have a research Scientist; Tommy Creo searching for a cure for the brain tumour his wife Izzi is suffering from. Then there’s an astronaut, Tom, in the far future who is travelling in a clear bubble that contains a dying tree. He is approaching his destination, a nebula that could release him from the long life he has suffered. All these stories are interlinked with the backbone of the plot being that of Tommy and Izzi. It seems that a story written by Izzi about a Spanish Queen and the soldier she sent to search for the Tree of Life needs an ending… I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Aronofsky Division) will be confusing me with even more daring and complex plots.

The Fountain - 6 Beautifully shot with some stunning images. I wasn’t sure about the muted tones used at first but as the film went on it grew on me. The musical score by Clint Mansell was both beautiful and inspired; I will be tracking it down. The performances of the two central characters; Hugh Jackman as Tomas / Tommy / Tom Creo and Rachel Weisz as Isabel / Izzi Creo were stunning; Aronofsky certainly knows how to get a performance and they didn’t let him down. I also have to give honourable mentions to; Ellen Burstyn as Dr. Lillian Guzetti, Mark Margolis as Father Avila, Stephen McHattie as Grand Inquisitor Silecio and Fernando Hernandez as Lord of Xibalba.

The Fountain - 9 I have to admit this is the second time I’ve seen this one and it’s one of those that gets better each time you see it. There are so many nuances and plot devices that it can be quite a hard one to get a handle on first time around. That’s probably one of the reasons it has divided opinion so much. The three threads of the story seem so remote at first but as you watch it all gradually pulls together. For me it is just the right length, any longer and it might have become a little tedious. I know there are many out there that didn’t like if first time around; to you I say; give it another chance… try to watch it with an open mind. It is slow-paced deliberately to allow the audience time to assimilate the story. If you’re watching it for the first time on my recommendation, then be prepared to give it a second viewing; you may not get it all first time around.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My score: 8.1/10

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 119,092 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 51/100: (Based on 36 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

The Fountain - 1 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 51/100 (based on 194 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 234,155 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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[first title card]: Therefore, the Lord God banished Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and placed a flaming sword to protect the tree of life. - Genesis 3:24

Tom Creo: What are you doing here?
Izzi: Take a walk with me.
Tom Creo: I have too much work.
Izzi: It's the first snow, we always...
Tom Creo: [interrupting] They're waiting on me.
Izzi: Come on Tommy...
Tom Creo: Please, Izzi!
Tom Creo: I'm sorry. I am.
[Izzi walks out]
Tom Creo: I'll see you tonight, OK?

Isabel: Kneel, Conquistador.
[Tomas kneels before her]
Isabel: Let in the morning light.
[the doors are opened; light floods into the hall]
Isabel: The beast runs amok in my kingdom. He has isolated me, and now he is sharpening his talons for one more fateful push. But salvation lies in the jungles of New Spain. Will you deliver Spain from bondage?

Tom Creo: Death is a disease, it's like any other. And there's a cure. A cure - and I will find it.

The Fountain - 3 Tom Creo: There you are.
Izzi: Hey, what are you doing here?
Tom Creo: Babe we have a
Tom Creo: at three.
Izzi: This is an actual Mayan book. It explains the Creation myth. You see that's first father. He's the very first human.
Tom Creo: Hum. Is he dead?
Izzi: He sacrificed himself to make the world.
Izzi: That's the tree of life bursting out of his stomach.
Tom Creo: Hey come.
Izzi: Listen. His body became the trees' roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches rising up forming the sky. All the remained is first father's head. His children hung in the heavens creating Xibalba.
Tom Creo: Xibalba. The star, eh,
[corrects himself]
Tom Creo: nebula
Izzi: So what do you think?
Izzi: About?
Izzi: That idea. Death as an act of creation.
Tom Creo: [looks away, withdrawing] I'll pull out the car and meet you out front.

[last lines]
Tom Creo: I finished it.
Izzi: Is everything all right?
Tom Creo: Yes. Everything's all right.

The Fountain - 4 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
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